Garco pledges funds for trails
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” Three groups inched toward the vision of a trail system from Glenwood Springs and Carbondale to as far as Vail Pass, Grand Junction, Crested Butte and Aspen.
“We could become to bike touring what Moab is to mountain biking,” said Dale Will of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.
Garfield County commissioners promised $150,000 Monday in 2008 funding to be split evenly among three trail projects. Pitkin County, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and the Lower Valley Trails Group (LOVA) will get $50,000 each from conservation trust money.
LOVA has been working on funding a 2.3-mile trail project for a Glenwood Springs trail to South Canyon. After a bid came in at a higher-than-expected $3.9 million, LOVA tried for a nearly one-mile stretch instead. That would have cost $3 million or more, so LOVA hopes to make progress toward the goal by getting about 530 feet done. A $1.25 million Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant was lost since the initial plans didn’t pan out despite help from the county and city, according to LOVA Executive Director Larry Dragon.
He added that the county has also donated money to LOVA in addition to the conservation trust money. The county agreed to donate $300,000 in May.
The South Canyon trail would stretch along the north side of the Colorado River to the west on a narrow easement from the Glenwood Springs Sanitation District property. It would start from Mitchell Creek near where it flows into the Colorado. Dragon didn’t want to say what the cost of the current proposal is projected at.
RFTA’s $50,000 share will aid completion of the Rio Grande Trail from County Road 114 ” near the Thunder River Market ” to 23rd Street in Glenwood Springs. That’s expected to be done this year. Also in the works is completion of the trail from Carbondale to County Road 114. RFTA has committed to complete that segment by 2010. With the paving of the segment connecting to Glenwood Springs, bicyclists would be able to pedal the length of the Roaring Fork Valley without riding on Highway 82.
Pitkin County is working toward a five-mile segment of the Crystal Trail, which could eventually stretch from Carbondale to the summit of McClure Pass, connecting with trails beyond. It asked for the $50,000 to help fund the segment and still needs at least $850,000 more.
“People have been talking about a trail up the Crystal Valley for at least 15 years, maybe longer,” Will said. “This would be the first leg of this proposed trail that would ultimately extend all the way to Redstone and beyond to the summit of McClure.”
The project would pick up from Snowmass Drive and head upstream about five miles to the area near the BRB Crystal River Resort. One mile is in Carbondale, one is in Pitkin County and three miles are in Garfield County. The trail is, in this section, within the Colorado Department of Transportation’s right of way, Will said.
“We have a permit application pending with CDOT now,” he said. “We’re hoping that CDOT will be able to approve the permit within the next few months. Then it’s going to be a challenge to actually raise the finances for this trail.”
Trail projects statewide are seeing huge cost increases as the prices of steel, concrete, asphalt and other supplies climb, Will said. The other portions are funded by Carbondale and Pitkin County, he said, but the Garfield County portion is more expensive since it includes a bridge.
“It’s challenging and I guess I was happy to hear Tresi Houpt say if we get stuck we should come back and let them know,” Will said.